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Ender's Game Q&A

What kind of entertainment would Valentine and Peter have had as children? I know that the Internet is huge, but what about TV? Computer games? Were books still in use or did you just read novels on the computer? Would they have played 3-D games such as the ones found in the Battle School game room? What did the adults use for entertainment?

OSC Answers
As children, Valentine, Peter, and Ender had the normal range of entertainment - movies, computer games, television, etc.  none of those are going away. They also played outside - and played games against each other.

But the real game, for all of them, was real life, from a very early age. That is, they regarded adults as adversaries, other children as competitors. Even Valentine, the "peaceful one," was a competitor and liked to win. So for them, the nets were a way to compete with others outside the scope of their local schools or neighborhood.

Three-D games are fine, but they don't really add anything to the games we already play except that spectators and competitors can stand in other positions.

What kind of jobs were available at that time? The same as now, or different? What was the pay for some of them (i.e., IF Commander, military strategist, etc.)? What was the currency - was it a world currency, or did they use different currencies for different countries?

OSC Answers
As for jobs, I really didn't envision much change - nothing like the huge change at the beginning of the 1900s, when all the horse-related jobs vanished, car-related jobs sprang into existence, and even people's living and commuting patterns changed. I did envision a post-petroleum world, with public transportation far more common than private cars; but the vast gains in technology acquired from the Hive Queens had far more effect in space than on Earth in people's daily lives.

We already have a world currency - the dollar. That's what everything else is measured against. The Euro is an attempt to stabilize a currency against the dollar, but if the dollar collapsed, everything else would collapse with it. However, you can be sure that the first action of the Hegemon's office, the moment it was established, would have been to "fix" all world currencies at their current value against an arbitrary standard (i.e., the dollar) - but beyond that the nations of the world would have rebelled. Now that you bring it up, though, I'll deal with the currency issue in the final Shadow book. It would matter in that story, and I should have addressed it already. Thanks for the reminder!

What were the civilian clothes like? If you look at the past seventy years, the clothing styles have changed drastically. What did they look like in the year 2070 and beyond? What about food, and music?

OSC Answers
Clothing styles are absolutely unpredictable - except for the one sure thing: If you could accurately foretell what people would wear in the future, you would appal and disgust the contemporary audience. Think about it - if, in 1973, when we were wearing platform shoes and wide ties and bell bottom pants, someone had shown us the grunge look of the 90s, we would have found the styles ridiculous and hilarious. But if someone had shown people from the 50s - with their poky-out petticoats and poodle skirts and bobby sox and ducktail greased-back hair what the styles of the 70s would be - well, they would have been just as disbelieving.

So a smart science fiction writer makes NO effort to depict future costumes, because to the degree that the prediction is realistic (i.e., showing the right degree of change), the characters will be made ridiculous in the eyes of the contemporary reader; and to the degree that they don't look ridiculous, they won't be realistic.

Think of those movies from the fifties that show ancient Romans looking an awful lot like 1950s movie queens. Ditto with the 30s and 40s.  You just can't stray too far from contemporary fashions in the direction of authenticity.

In books, I can ignore such things In movies, the poor costumer can't. Which is why you have the absolutely ridiculous "futuristic" costumes that show up in movie and tv sci-fi from the 50s and 60s and 70s.

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